Posted by: Jerrad | January 18, 2010

Rant on emotion vs logic

Establishing your beliefs on a foundation of logic instead of using emotional response is like the difference between sailing on a boat with a keel vs a flat bottom boat. For those of you not in the know of the anatomy of a ship, in a sailing vessel a keel keeps the ship stable and prevents it from tipping over. It is particularly necessary in high force winds and rough seas. I think this analogizes well with the tumultuous nature of the American political arena. With pundits and political opportunists on both sides, establishing your political “keel” in terms of government’s roles will help stabilize your “sailing vessel” of ideas in a storm of emotional appeal and to me this is the true storm we are in; when things do not appeal to our emotion, we do not have the will to act. To me, it seems very easily explained why emotions have come to rule our world. We are used to having emotional responses elicited from us in almost all forms of entertainment. Look at music, at movies and at television, starting with younger forms of each invoking less complex and brighter emotions and graduating into more complex and darker emotions. As humans, our entire collective civilization’s entertainment is based on emotional response. With such saturation of emotion in everything we do that we enjoy, it’s hard to focus on the logic for its entertainment value, it’s more like work to think instead of mindlessly going from one emotional high (or low) to the next. News outlets use this against us all the time by writing stories to accentuate the emotionally appealing portions of the story making the impact greater and the want to continue watching, listening or reading greater. If you can remove this emotional appeal from the message and look at it objectively and compare it to your values then the answer to the issue is much clearer. That is if you have values in place to compare against, otherwise you are another emotional vessel left in the wind to capsize.



  1. Good post. It is true that if you do not have a set of principles that are founded on logic and survival in the long term, you have nothing to compare the relative value of the data you come in contact with to judge which way to act on the data or even if it could be true. You could only act on it in a monotone of importance.

  2. Good post, Jerrad. Emotion definitely sways voters. Sometimes it can be a very good motivator (fear is a really big one!) I think that particular emotion is motivating the enormous turnout at Tea Party rallies and such. Fear of what will become of the country if the silent majority doesn’t stand up and take the country back! Fear might actually make one stop and think logically and then motivate one to act rationally as it subsides to be replaced by determination.

  3. I think another emotion that’s stimulating the rise of the American people, is anger. I think it started with fear and has now become anger for some. Just the fact that these “DC elite” feel they can ram their agenda down the throats of the rest of us “little peons” stimulates the anger. The anger has to be channeled in a positive direction. The big reward will be when we replace some of those elite jerks pushing the agenda. The emotion then will be sweet jubilation!

  4. I disagree. Fear and anger are both motivators, but it is my belief that emotion, on all levels, clouds logical thought. Not to say there is no room for emotion but you have to be able to rationally deal with the emotions you are feeling to not take un-needed risk in situations that arise. Especially those that have to do with a losing situation no matter what actions you take. Then it’s all about minimizing loss. Think of the actions of a military strategist. If your force is going to lose, a smart military strategist will withdraw his troops, regroup and fight another day instead of fighting to the last man to protect his pride. The smart strategist is thinking of the war and not the battle. I think too often people think of the battle and not the war.

  5. Very interesting, Jerrad. The thing that keeps running through my head is: “courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

    I do think any emotion can cloud logical thinking, but there are times that an emotion can also focus your thinking out of an immediate necessity. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to think long term, it just means that people basically are complacent when things “aren’t that bad.” It takes something like what’s going on in the country today to make people not only look ahead, but look back to see what we might lose. Let’s hope that’s the war we are fighting. Last night’s win in MA is one battle won.

    I’ve enjoyed this discussion. It’s great to learn from the younger generation.

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